On July 3, 1967, South Africa minted the world’s first bullion coin: the gold Krugerrand. At the time, the country produced 70-75% of the world’s gold, but many governments refused to touch it due to the country’s apartheid policies. Economic and political uncertainty were having the same effect on individuals it is having today: nervous investors look to put their money in safe-haven assets, notably gold. So South Africa decided to circumvent its problem with foreign governments by selling its gold directly to individuals, where possible. And since the average investor couldn’t afford to buy 400-ounce good delivery bars, buying gold coins as a store of value was the perfect solution.
The Krugerrand was a legal-tender coin, but gold prices in the private-sector market were volatile, so it was decided the coins would bear no denomination—they were valued solely on their precious-metal content. Each one contained an ounce of gold plus enough copper to help it resist damage (thanks to the copper, the coins had a distinctive red-gold color). The 22-karat coins were of the same fineness as the British gold Sovereign, which was no longer being produced. That first year, more than 40,000 bullion Krugerrands were minted, along with another 10,000 Proofs for collectors. In short order, South Africa was both creating and owning the market.
When President Richard Nixon formally ended the (already crumbling) gold standard in the early 1970s, sales of the Krugerrand skyrocketed. In 1980 South Africa expanded on the success of the one-ounce coin by adding fractional weights (1/2, 1/4, and 1/10 ounce) to its lineup. Other countries, observing the success of the reddish-gold coins, began to follow suit with their own bullion products, beginning with Canada’s gold Maple Leaf in 1979, China’s gold Panda in 1982, and so on. Even with so much competition, Krugerrands remain immensely popular and are available worldwide from vendors like APMEX.
Next year, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Krugerrand, the Rand Refinery in South Africa is expanding its bullion program. Not only will it issue Krugerrand coins in silver and platinum, it will issue the gold coins in four entirely new weights: 50 ounces, 5 ounces, 1/20 ounce, and 1/50 ounce.
Unlike the gold Krugerrand, the 1-ounce platinum coins (to be struck in Proof only, .9999 fine) will bear a denomination: 10 Rand. The 1-ounce silver coins (.999 fine) will be denominated 1 Rand, and will be available in both Proof and Uncirculated formats. Both the silver and the platinum coins will have a small privy mark with a “50” on the reverse, just above the historic springbok emblem, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Krugerrand.
The specifications of the complete range of commemorative Krugerrands can be found below.
|0.9167||50 oz. (1696.5 g)||100 mm||50||Proof||none|
|0.9167||5 oz. (169.65 g)||50 mm||500||Proof||none|
|0.9167||1 oz. (33.93 g)||32.69 mm||5000||Proof||none|
|0.9167||1/2 oz. (16.965 g)||27 mm||5000||Proof||none|
|0.9167||1/4 oz. (8.482 g)||22 mm||5000||Proof||none|
|0.9167||1/10 oz. (3.393 g)||16 mm||5000||Proof||none|
|0.9167||1/20 oz. (1.696 g)||12mm||20000||Proof||none|
|0.9167||1/50 oz. (0.679 g)||8 mm||50000||Proof||none|
|0.999||1 oz. (31.107 g)||38.725 mm||15,000||Proof||1 Rand|
|0.999||1 oz. (31.107 g)||38.725 mm||500,000||Unc.||1 Rand|
|0.9999||1 oz. (31.107 g)||32.69 mm||1,967||Proof||10 Rand|